The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have changed their recommendations for vaccinated Americans, urging staying “up to date” with COVID-19 vaccines means getting a booster shot.
“Surveillance data from the CDC and other studies from around the world have shown the benefit of a booster dose after receiving only a primary series, including a reduced risk of infection, severe illness and death,” said the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, at a White House News Briefing on Wednesday.
The CDC recommends that people who received a primary injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive a booster of the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least two months after receiving their J&J injection.
More than 71 million Americans have received a booster dose, according to CDC data.
However, health officials also said Wednesday that they will not change the qualifications for being “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19.
The decision to keep the initial definition, established more than a year ago when the vaccines were first released, means that federal travel or employment vaccination mandates will not require a booster dose.
Maintaining the existing definition of “fully vaccinated” could make it difficult to encourage some Americans who only grudgingly received their primary doses of the vaccine to booster, as they would not face onerous restrictions that are often imposed on the unvaccinated, including those who are not vaccinated. testing requirements or, in some jurisdictions, you are barred from indoor dining and other facilities.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief scientific adviser on the response to COVID-19, said earlier this week that the administration was changing the way it talked about vaccines and getting booster doses.
“We are now using the terminology ‘keep your vaccines up to date,’ rather than what ‘fully vaccinated’ means,” he said during a National Institutes of Health conference.
Also in the news:
► Unvaccinated NBA star point guard Kyrie Irving made his season debut Wednesday night, scoring 22 points in the Brooklyn Nets’ 129-121 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Irving can only play away games because a New York City mandate requires proof of vaccination to enter the arenas.
► No. 1 male tennis player Novak Djokovic was denied entry to Australia ahead of the Australian Open after failing to meet the requirements for an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
📈 Today’s numbersThe United States has recorded more than 57 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 832,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. World totals: more than 297 million cases and 5.4 million deaths. More than 206 million Americans (62%) are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we are reading: As common as cloth face masks have become, health experts say they do little to prevent tiny virus particles from entering your nose or mouth and are not effective against the new variant of the coronavirus. Gabriela Miranda from USA TODAY explains.
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Chicago again cancels classes for 330,000 city public school students
Chicago public schools closed Thursday for the second day in a row as a stalemate between the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the school district over COVID-19 safety continued. CTU’s 25,000 members voted Tuesday night to switch to remote learning until January 18, or when cases decline. In response, Chicago Public Schools announced they would cancel classes Wednesday for the district’s 330,000 students, without remote instruction. On Wednesday night, he announced that classes would be canceled again on Thursday because there are not enough teachers to staff the classrooms.
Schools Executive Director Pedro Martinez said students can begin returning to schools on Friday for services such as tutoring or counseling if enough staff members show up. Buildings remained open Wednesday to pick up meals in the mostly low-income, black and Latino school district.
– Christine Fernando and Alia Wong
Those vaccinated with J&J wait for the green light for the third dose
The 16 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine are in a gray area. While health officials encourage those who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna double-dose series to receive a third injection, J&J recipients are limited to their original dose and a single booster dose. About 3.5 million of them have gotten a boost, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they cannot go beyond that.
“I suspect there are thousands of J&J beneficiaries in my situation who are questioning our protection,” said Donna Alston, 61, of Philadelphia. “I went to my pharmacy last week to see if I could sign up and they said no.” Read more here.
– Elizabeth way
CDC Director Supports Plan for 12-15 Year Olds to Get Booster Vaccine
The director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, led the way Wednesday to immediately administer additional booster doses to people ages 12 to 15.
A CDC advisory panel earlier that day had voted 13-1 in favor of recommending that children ages 12 to 15 receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and Walensky was quick to support the suggestion. The additional injection can be given at least five months after the conclusion of the original two-dose regimen.
The committee also reinforced its recommendation that 16- and 17-year-olds should also receive a booster. The previous guidance said that the age group “can” receive an injection.
“It is critical that we protect our children and adolescents from COVID-19 infection and the complications of serious illness,” Walensky said. “This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the omicron variant.”
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the booster earlier this week, basing its decision primarily on data from Israel that found no new safety concerns when 6,300 children ages 12 to 15 received a booster from Pfizer five months after their second dose. .
The reinforcement is considered a crucial weapon against the pandemic as students return to classrooms after winter break amid a historic spike in cases fueled by omicron.
Boosters are already recommended for everyone over the age of 16.
Contributing: The Associated Press